Sunday, July 21, 2013

Hard Drives

I haven’t put pen to pad in a year or so. The reason? I’ve been too happy. You know the formula – dream job, dream city, dream guy. Even more than that, I’m about to get married to this superman, and we’re dashing off to an exotic honeymoon across the world where we will start our adventure together called life. Maybe add a baby to the equation at some point soon. It doesn’t get better than this. It really doesn’t. So, why in the world have I taken up writing (again) today (of all days)?

A trigger.

Have you ever been truly blissful riding the waves of a perfect relationship when suddenly you see something you shouldn’t – like a photograph of your guy with his ex?

Yeah, you know, that photograph.

And you nearly choke on your own shock. You aren’t gasping at the picture itself, but at the frozen moment in time when your ex was – or appeared – just as happy with her as he is now with you? Worse yet, in that brief second (okay, maybe it was a minute or two) when you looked as closely as you could at those dozens of photographs of him with her (and her with him) (and them together), you could just swear that in a couple, he looked happier. Like, maybe just maybe, his smile was wider, less forced. His eyes could’ve dazzled a little brighter. His face was more relaxed, not as much obligated. He looked at her differently. Sweeter? Lighter? And it made you doubt.

Yes, that photograph.

In one – you know you saw it (in fact, it just may be emblazoned in your memory and not even the eternal sunshine of the spotless mind could erase it) – he held her hand tighter. He kissed her longer. He rested his head against her cheek, and it all just meant more to him. There was so much joy it nearly made you forget the joy you and he have together as you approach your upcoming future. Damn. Why in the world did you have to see those stupid pictures on his computer?

Well, I did.

In fact, as I was trying to upload our first engagement photo onto his Apple, as I was trying to make that photo “our” new screen saver, there “they” were – hidden in a folder that he tried so obviously to delete when we first started dating. But, in this day and age, you can’t “delete” anything, can you?

Because there are hard drives. And they drive a hard bargain. On the one hand, I get a larger-than-life movie theater computer screen with every application under the electronic sun and speed faster than light. On the other, I get a folder of tiny picture squares of him and his ex looking just as in love then as we are now.

So what did I do?

I did what any woman would. Of course I double-clicked on the folder, and lo and behold there was a larger-than-life picture of the love-of-my-life and his perky ex looking straight at me. With their arms wrapped around each other’s shoulders, a younger (and what appeared to be) happier version of my man leaned his head onto the shoulder of another (younger) version of me. It’s an image I’ll never forget. Even if he has already forgotten it, it’s an image I’ll wonder if he’s actually forgotten for quite some time.

Wasn’t it so much easier when we could just tear memories up?

It would take a mechanical engineer to figure out a way to get rid of that hard drive of his and, as a result, now mine.

This is one of the many pitfalls we face in our high tech world – we can’t really “delete” anything try... as… we… might. Computers have taken over our minds, and as consequence our hearts. No matter how hard we try to “start anew,” there is always an encrypted folder containing our past life. When we see those pictures of days gone by, we wonder how “past” they just might be. And we ache.

We ache.

I wish I hadn’t seen those pictures. I sure know that my soon-to-be husband shared that wish as he dashed to his computer to figure out a way, hopeless as he knew it would be, to erase them from his hard drive and, more importantly, my memory. But this is the world we live in now. Everything is saved and stored (and backed up after that). It doesn’t matter how deep we try to go, there’s an image – a thumbprint – that contains the original story and it just won’t go away. There is no way around it, except, I suppose, to throw out the actual generator. Toss the computer out the window. Burn it. That would seem extreme though. Who has the money to buy a new computer every few years? I certainly don’t.  

I guess there is only one solution, and it’s the basic one. How ironic that the solution amidst the crevices of the tangled web of code that surrounds us is the most basic. But it is. I have to accept that the person I love has a past (just as he has accepted mine). Amidst the electricity, it’s simply called… real life. And, despite a delete or pause or minimizer button, sometimes it hurts no matter what.